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Review: Star Castle (Vectrex)

Posted by Rob Maerz on February 1, 2014 at 12:10 AM

My favorite arcade game used to be Galaga. Then, it was Sinistar until I came to terms with the fact that the game cheats. Now, I can profess my love for Cinematronics’ 1980 vector classic, Star Castle. And what better system to port this brutally difficult arcade game than the Vectrex?


The Vectrex translation features two difficulty levels with game 1 being the most difficult and the default level of play. The cartridge was also bundled with an attractive overlay with blue tint and red ring and yellow circle in the center to colorize the rings and cannon. The overlay really makes the game look sharp (especially when you play in a dark room!).


Like most deep space shooters, your ship rotates left and right (using the joystick or controller buttons) along with thrust and fire.


The bad guy is a cannon that rotates in the middle of the screen surrounded by three rings rotating in opposite directions. Aiding our foe are three sparks that will free themselves from the rings and chase you around the screen. Colliding with these sparks is fatal.


The object of the game is to destroy the cannon by shooting the ring segments (but do not shoot all the segments of a ring or they will regenerate) for points in order to create a gaping hole. Once there is a path cleared through the rings to the cannon, you need to kill or be killed. Whenever you destroy the cannon, you are awarded a bonus ship, you repeat the process of destroying a cannon and the game ramps up in difficulty.


The difficulty is in the game’s speed. The deeper you advance in the game, the faster the sparks travel and the faster the cannon rotates to keep aim on your ship. In the latter stages of the game, you have no option but to stay on full thrust and firing at the same time.


The Star Castle arcade game featured some great audio effects such as the drone of the rotating rings and the thundering destruction of ring segments. The drone has been recreated well on the Vectrex although the sound of ring destruction resembles that of two brawling wooden coat hangers.


Graphically the game is spot on and there are no flaws to speak of.


The Vectrex version of Star Castle is easier for this reason: the sparks never wrap around the playfield. With that, you can always wrap around the playfield to avoid collisions. Nevertheless, the sparks increase their speed to a profound level much like the arcade game.


Star Castle is arguably the best game in the Vectrex library and is a must have for your collection.


Grade: A+



Categories: Reviews

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